Monday, April 16, 2018

Such a Deal! GHOST STAR On Sale $0.99 All April

As you saw in an earlier post, Amazon decided to do a price-drop marketing promotion for Ghost Star. All this month my little YA space opera is discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 per Kindle copy. Not too shabby for anyone looking to save a couple of bucks on an action-packed sci-fi read.

There are TWO WEEKS left on the promo, so if you haven't already picked up your copy, now's a good time to do so.

Also, please share this bargain with your family and friends. I'll thank you for it and I think they will too.

Clicking HERE will take you to the Ghost Star Amazon page.

Thanks!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Illustrator FAQ: Where do I start?


Q: My mother has been a professional artist for over 40 years and has recently put together a wonderful portfolio of children's book illustration examples. Her forte is definitely in the area of illustration so she would like to somehow team with a writer to put together a book. She has sent her portfolio to a number of publishers, but has yet to be connected with a writer and ultimately published. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A: I'm an author. I only restate the obvious to warn you about the questionable value of advice from an author to an aspiring illustrator. That being said, here are some thoughts.

It's good that your Mom has put together a portfolio because, as she has discovered, you must have one to get work. Obviously, a portfolio filled with picture book appropriate art samples would be better to have for this purpose than one of poster art or portraiture. I have heard of writers and illustrators teaming up "on spec," but this seems to be the exception to the rule -- usually husband and wife teams, old friends, etc. Side note: When I first started writing books, I was concerned that I was going to have to find my own illustrator. But a little research quickly revealed that publishers actually prefer it if authors don't come in with their own artwork (unless the illustrations are exceptionally good). Part of the satisfaction that an editor or publisher gets from their job is in the pairing up of the right illustrator with the right author.

So, all that being said, here are some thoughts on getting work as a children's book illustrator...

Your Mom could write and illustrate her own book. Author/Illustrators are a well-respected double threat in the kid's book trade (and get to keep ALL of the money!). If she's not crazy about writing an original story, she might want to think about "re-telling" a classic fairy tale or obscure folk story -- something in the public domain.

There are also agents that handle illustrators but how to find one of them is far outside of my area of expertise, so she’ll have to look into that herself. The links I mention below might prove helpful.



Another approach would be for her to keep slugging away and submitting her portfolio to the various publishing houses. 

Try visiting the FAQs on the Children's Book Council website. They're the trade organization for all the children's book publishers and they provide a great deal of helpful info. Anyway, they're great place to start. The rest of the site has a lot of useful info, too.

I'd also recommend the most recent edition of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books". It really helped me out on the author side of things with practical "how to" tips and I've read that the latest edition provides a lot of useful info for illustrators, too. 

Tell your Mom "good luck" from me!

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 If you have a question about writing books, send it to me via the CONTACT tab or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Blog Tour: Wild Fire by Scott Bury

Happy to be a stop on the blog tour of Scott Bury's, Wild Fire. Check out the excerpt, links, and other important info for Scott's brand new mystery thriller! -RE

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Wildfire: Charlie the terrier

Tara felt panic tightening her chest. She leaned forward, hand on the desk. “I do know something
about this business, Mr. DaSilva.”
“Please, call me Alan.”
“I know you’ve won a number of awards over the years. Gold medals, prix d’honneur, more. Yours is one of the smaller wineries in the Sonoma Valley with one of the best reputations. And from what I’ve read, there are several competitors who are jealous of the piece of land you have for the grapevines. They say it’s the most ideal location for a terroir in California—with the best soil, best drainage, the perfect situation to the sun.”

Alan was nodding, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He twirled the pencil again. “Do go on.”
Tara swallowed. “But apparently, you’ve been struggling to keep up with demand for your product. There have been some accidents in the ... oh, I forget the technical term ...” Damn it, Tara, pull yourself together. This is no time for memory lapses. “In the production area. Damage to some of your larger tanks and bottling lines. They set you back and cost you a lot of money.”
Alan continued to nod, but he no longer smiled. “That’s true. We had a string of unexplained accidents last year.”
Oh, no, now he’s not happy anymore. Way to blow the first job interview you’ve had in California, Tara
Bring it back to the positive. “But you’ve also had some good news in the past two years. Your restaurant got a Michelin star, and nothing but great ratings in all the reviews.”
A faint smile touched Alan’s mouth again. “That’s right. The restaurant has done—is doing—very well. Making money. That’s mostly due to my wife. She found our new chef, and managed to convince him to come way out here to work. And she managed to get some big-name restaurant reviewers to make the drive up from San Francisco, too.” He looked out the window, too, and the smile vanished. “I still don’t really know how she managed to do that.” He took a deep breath and turned his hazel eyes to Tara again. “All right, your résumé proves you’re smart and ambitious, and Sophia said you were a hard worker. What did you do for her?”
Tara shrugged. “Nothing much. We just sort of met by accident. I needed a place to stay. She needed some help around the house and the diner she owns. I helped her and stayed in her guest bedroom for a few days. I said I was looking for some steadier work, and she mentioned you.”
“So, you’ve worked in Sophia’s restaurant?”
“Yes, just helping with some of the food prep.”
“Did you study food service?”
“No, but I worked in a restaurant in the summers between college terms. I love to cook.” Talk yourself up, Tara. “And I’m good at it. Very good.”
DaSilva nodded. “Anything else I should know about you?”
“I have a black belt in karate. I got that when I was in high school.”
“Wow. A dangerous woman. Remind me never to get into a fight with you. I don’t know whether we can use you in the winery, but we do need some help in the kitchen.”
The dog came to her and pressed its nose between Tara’s knees. “Charlie, down,” Alan said. The dog looked at Alan and whined. Alan pointed at the floor where the dog had been sleeping. “Charlie,” he repeated. 
The dog whined again but sat down where it had been, its eyes fixed on Tara. 
“What kind of dog is Charlie?” Tara asked.
“A terrier mix.” Alan leaned over and patted its head, and the tail swished back and forth across the floor. “Not the smartest dog in the world, but he does know good people. Everyone who works here has had to pass the Charlie test.”
“What’s the Charlie test?”
“Charlie has to make friends with you. Well, one person isn’t Charlie’s friend. But … never mind.” Alan sat back in his chair and fixed an intent look on Tara’s eyes. “We’ve had a lot of turnover in the last few months. Chef Donald is great, but he’s not exactly the easiest guy in the world to work for. If you’ve got a thick skin, I can put you to work in the kitchen. The pay’s not great, but it’s steady, and it comes with room and board. You can start tonight, if that works for you.”
“Tonight?”
Alan smiled again and stood up. “Like I said, Chef’s not easy to work for. We had a line cook quit last night.” He reached a hand across the desk and Charlie got up again, his tail wagging fast. “So, you ready to work?”
Tara looked into Alan’s hazel eyes. She noticed the very middle of the iris, a narrow rim around the deep black pupil, was like a ring of green fire. 

Wildfire

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Now available for pre-order on on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers). 

You can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad.

About the author

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury turned to writing fiction with a children’s story, Sam, the Strawb Part, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller: Dark Clouds. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.
From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

Scott was invited to write for three Kindle Worlds, where authors base novellas on the fictional worlds of bestselling series. For Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World, he wrote Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying and Echoes.

For Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, he contributed Jet: Stealth, featuring the explosive duo of Van and LeBrun.

And for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World, he brought Van and LeBrun back for The Wife Line and The Three-Way

Now, he is beginning a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck. Wildfire is currently available for pre-order on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers). 

Find out more about Scott and his writing on his website, ScottBuryAuthor.com.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

GHOST STAR: Special Discount for the Month of April

Starting today, Ghost Star takes its place on Amazon's MONTHLY DEALS page. That means the book, normally priced at $2.99, will be on sale at $0.99 for the entire month of April. Yay!

Pick up your own Kindle copy, or, if you already own it, share the news with your sci-fi adventure, bargain-loving pals.

You can shop the promotion by going HERE. Just type Ghost Star Adventures in the search bar.

Please spread the word and thank you for your support!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

R.I.P. Animation Great Fred Crippen


The folks at Animation Insider (definitely follow them if you haven't already) report that noted animation director/producer Fred Crippen recently passed away at age 90. Mr. Crippen contributed mightily to the cartoon biz with quirky commercials, spots on Sesame Street, and more. His most well-known addition to the corpus of American TV animation was the off-the-wall 1965 series, Roger Ramjet.

As mentioned on Wikipedia, "the show was known for its crude animation, frenetic pace, and frequent references to popular culture, which allowed the show to entertain various age groups."

Kids of that time loved it.

The series featured Ramjet as the adult leader of the American Eagle Squadron, a group of four kids who also happened to be expert jet pilots. Each episode, the squadron was tasked with saving the world in "around 5 minutes and 20 seconds."

Many thanks, Fred Crippen!

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Here's a sample episode of Roger Ramjet entitled "Comics" wherein our heroes battle alien robots who hope to conquer a weakened Earth with (really really bad, boy it's bad) "comedy." Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Script Formatting


Q: I have a teleplay. I've heard there are different formats for scripts. My format consists of the heading, dialogue, and description being 1.25 spaces from the left edge of the paper. The character names above their dialogue are the only things I indented. My page numbers are at the bottom right
of the paper. Keeping in mind that there are different formats for scripts, is my format correct?

A: There are two main script formats -- sitcoms and screenplays. With the exception of "act breaks" (the annoying advertising part that pays for everything), the hour TV dramas are usually written in standard screenplay format. In this format, the margins are small, the dialogue is indented from the action description, and the character names are centered over the dialogue. Sitcom scripts are similar but the margins are wider and the dialogue is double-spaced.

I would recommend that you find a show that is similar in style to your teleplay (half-hour comedy, etc.) and then set about getting a copy of a script for that show. There are various online resources. In order to be taken seriously, you should make your script look like this script from an existing show -- one that was generated by a professional.

Another thing you might want to consider is purchasing some script writing software. These contain script templates for many kinds of television and film scripts and even things like plays, novels, and radio scripts. I have used both "Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000" and "Final Draft". Final Draft seems to be more popular among professional animation writers, to the point that it’s considered the industry standard, but both are good. These applications can be kind of pricey ($100 - $200+) because of their narrow appeal (professional writers) but I found they seriously increased my productivity and so are worth every penny. 

One more thing; the page numbers go in the upper right hand corner.
 

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If you have a question about writing for animation, send it to me via the CONTACT tab. If you have your own thoughts about this particular question, please leave them in the comments.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Author FAQ: What Software Should I Use to Write My Books?



Q: I was curious what software you use for writing your books.  I want to convert one of my scripts into book format and pursue creating a series of pre-to-early teen books, so I want to make sure what I submit follows industry standards.

A: I use MS Word for all of my book writing (picture books, short stories, chapter books, and novels). I've also used a screenwriting program which has a novel template. The script program worked okay, but I prefer Word because its files are more universally accepted -- the screenplay software pretty much requires the person at the other end to have it too.  Ultimately, you'd have to convert the screenplay program file to Word anyway (to have anyone else read it) and when I had to do that there were tons of formatting problems that I had to go through and fix manually. Maybe other authors who use a screenplay book template can weigh in on their level of success.

With regard to industry formatting standards, there are a skillion how-to books on the shelf that show you proper page and paragraph layout, etc.

You're correct in wanting to get it right as I've read that an improperly formatted book sample can drive a prospective editor or agent bonkers.
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If you have a question about writing books, send it to me via the CONTACT tab. If you have your own thoughts about this particular question, I'd love to hear them so please leave them in the comments.